Robert Mugabe fires deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa

Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former intelligence chief, has been heavily criticised by supporters of Mugabe's wife, Grace, who has also been touted as a potential successor to her husband.

This file photo taken on 7 January, 2017 shows Emmerson Mnangagwa (C) attending the funeral ceremony of Peter Chanetsa at the National Heroes Acre in Harare. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - President Robert Mugabe has fired Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president, removing one of the favourites to succeed the 93-year-old leader.

Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former intelligence chief, has been heavily criticised by supporters of Mugabe's wife, Grace, who has also been touted as a potential successor to her husband.

Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo made the announcement.

The announcement came after a weekend in which Grace Mugabe and other senior officials called for Mnangagwa’s removal.

In an astonishing attack at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Moyo said that vice president Mnangagwa had consistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect and deceitfulness.

Mnangagwa and his faction have been the sustained target of verbal attacks within the ruling party for weeks now, but things came to a head over the weekend when the vice president’s supporters were accused of booing the First Lady at a rally in Bulawayo.

The party’s youth wing and several of the party’s provincial committees then said they wanted Mnangagwa out.